voidbearer: (The Void)
[personal profile] voidbearer

Sunlight sparkled across the placid water of Lake Ehime, the lakebed eerily clear in the mid-afternoon sun.  Nestled deep in the forests of Shikoku, secluded from the outside world by the natural isolation of the region, it had remained largely unchanged since the Edo period.  There were no houses and no shops, only a small temple to the mountain gods and an attached house with a thatch roof where the sole inhabitant of the area dwelled.  Yoshiki was an old man whos family had lived in the region for seven generations, and the caretaker of the lakeside. For the last twenty years he’d been employed by the nearest town to maintain the shrine, with supplies dropped off every few weeks by truck.  For the over a dozen years, he’d only see a few tourists and pilgrims a month, and the truck driver never changed.   

Today, however, was quite different.  Instead of the familiar, middle aged Mr. Komata, the supply truck rolled up with a woman at the wheel.  As she parked, she couldn’t help but glance in the mirror, adjusting the worker’s cap that covered her silken black hair.  A pony-tail hung out of the back of the hat, the tip reaching well below her shoulders. Smiling, she hopped out of the car and waved merrily at the old caretaker. 

“I’m sorry, but Komata-san was feeling a bit under the weather today, so they sent me.  I think I’ve got everything that was on your list, with a few extra potatoes and some shrimp too.  I couldn’t get the peppers though, the shops were out.  I’m sure they’ll come next time though,” the woman began with an apologetic look in her dark brown eyes. 

“Thanks,” the elderly man gruffly replied, “Why don’t you get started and it all inside then?” 

The unloading process was slowed, with Yoshiki being fairly demanding of the delivery girl, but each request was met with a polite smile and a curt bow.  As she worked sweat began to trickle down her face, gradually streaming down her elegantly angled cheeks.  Removing her hat, she wiped her brow clean with a gloved hand.  It was clear from her thin frame that she wasn’t usually put into situations like this, her delicate hands better suited to acts of dexterity than physical strength. 

 The cranky old man never so much as lifted a finger to help, instead opting to begin sifting through the boxes and complain, but nothing seemed to perturb the young woman.  After nearly an hour, she finally had the last box in her hands, a satisfied grin playing across her pale lips.  When she moved to enter the open doorway of Yoshiki’s hut and drop it off, the spiteful man “unwittingly” slammed it shut.  The heavy wooden door crashed into her arms, sending the already off-kilter woman falling backwards on her rear, the weighty supply carton crushed up against her tiny nose.

“O…Ohhh, OWWW,” she groaned as she pushed the container off herself, standing up dazedly.  Gently the delivery girl dabbed her nose with the back of a grey work-glove, her almond shaped eyes widening at the sight of the blood that she cleaned off.  With the other hand, she patted her legs and behind, brushing off the dirt from the fall.

“Whats the matter? Get that last box in here!” the old man shouted from inside, which elicited a moan in response.

“I’m trying, you mean old coot.  You shut the door in my face and knocked me down.”

The woman had finally had enough, the cruel geezer finally having gotten under her skin.   She tore open the door and darted past him to find a bathroom so she could clear up the blood.  In her blind rush, she ended up making her way through the living area and into the main room of the shrine itself.  Yoshiki growled and followed, his face a mask of rage at her sudden change in attitude.  When he finally caught up to her, the spiteful man opened his mouth as if to bellow, but no words came out, as though his breath had just left him. In the center of the room the delivery girl stood, her eyes glossed over and fixated on the lonely sanctuary’s only treasure, a mirror.  Moving closer, Yoshiki roughly grabbed her shoulder and tried to pull her away, but froze when he saw what was reflected in the silvery surface she was so entranced by.

The mirror’s image held her own, the same lithe girl with long, black hair, though it tumbled freely instead of being bound.  The face, with its high, graceful cheekbones, pale lips, and small nose remained unchanged as well.  But the mirror girl’s eyes were something more, twin pools of shining brown glass filled with wisdom and experience instead of tears.  The clothing, too, was quite different.  The sky-blue workman’s coveralls were replaced with a beautiful kimono, embroidered with orchids, herons, and stylized images of crows.  For a long moment, both the delivery girl and Yoshiki stared into the mirror, a deafening silence filling the room.

Then, reflection moved, delicate fingers reaching out to touch the surface, stretching out from wherever they were, as though the mirror were a conduit to another world.  There was a sound like breaking glass, and where once there was a delivery girl and the reflection, there now was only one.  Coldly, the kimoni-clad woman turned to the old caretaker, who’s hands dropped to his sides instantly as he kowtowed as low as he could. 

“D…d…don’t hurt me!” he blubbered, fear evident in his voice.

“I had not planned on it.  Your unkindness undid a great wrong.  A bloody nose is a small price to pay for my memories.”

“Wh..aa?”

“You’d not likely understand.  Just remember, my name is Saori, and that mirror is mine.  I expect it to be well cared for.”

  
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木村沙織

August 2015

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